A lot has happened in this very short soccer season for the Thunder Mountain boy’s pitch dwellers. A lot more is in store too as a group of graduating seniors have left a work ethic for the underclassman to aspire to.
In front of fans and classmates, the 2012 senior soccer boys were honored on Saturday for their work in the program.
Coach Sam Greely would teach them one last lesson. Given a hasty yellow and then red card during Friday’s game against Ketchikan, Greely would not be allowed to coach on Saturday for the last game of the season. He would, however, be able to say a few words before the game... and his previous teachings would lead the Falcons to another dramatic and action packed game.
“It’s a new program and these seniors have set the bar high,” Greely said. “My feeling is we will see better soccer players graduate over the years, but these are the best people I have ever worked with on the pitch. These are quality young men and good soccer players.”
On Falcons Field the three seniors were brought before their peers and their stories told.
Senior captain, outside defender and midfielder, Allen Shaw (number 8) wears a tee shirt that says “This is my animal costume.”
According to coach Greely, the 5-foot-8, 135-pound player has lived up to that slogan all season. Shaw is a defensive rock and has developed the ability to attack and start the offense. Shaw’s leadership by example holds everyone on the team to a high standard. Shaw also played on the Falcons’ basketball team. He will take his athletic ability and leadership skills to the Coast Guard Academy or the Air Force Academy.
“You can tell Allen has soccer skills,” Greely said. “He is our captain and it shows, he deserves it. One of our, if not our most talented player, and also a player that made many of his teammates get better.”
Senior utility player Coltin Lanz (4) has brought energy and enthusiasm to the first three years of the Falcons’ young soccer life. Lanz is a key defensive back that helps lead the Falcons and has battled through a basketball injury that has limited his soccer play. The truest Alaskan on the team, Lanz often practices without a shirt early in the season.
“Every day I watch Coltin put forth excellent effort,” Greely said. “He always seeks to improve and never gives up. He symbolizes the first three years of our Falcons program. He has always danced to the beat of his own drum but has always connected to the rhythms of those around him. Ever since the team has been the Falcons he has been a rock for us.”
Senior forward James Gilchrest (26) has represented the soccer programs growth the past three seasons. Gilchrest has volunteered to be keeper for the first season and faced over 100 shots on goal in the first contests, but the white orb hurtling at him did not deter his perseverance.
“James has grown and improved his skills tremendously,” Greely said. “He fills any role when asked and helps provide positive attitude. He wanted to get very good, anything you told him he would retain, it was refreshing as a coach to watch him take on all challenges and improve.”
When a JV keeper was injured, Gilchrest stepped in. Need a varsity wing? Gilchrest steps in. Lead a cheer? Gilchrest.
Off the pitch Gilchrest is a student government leader and a football player. He is currently weighing several college choices and scholarship opportunities but has narrowed the choice to the University of Alaska Southeast.
“These seniors have been with the program forever,” Greely said. “They have seen different lights, from the very beginnings to now where we are starting to make some progress, getting better and enjoying the fruits of their labor.”
The Falcons dropped the series to Ketchikan 2-1 on Friday and 1-0 on Saturday. The senior day contest featured the team slowing down Kayhi’s athleticism and the Falcons’ Brandon Monges’ tying shot just missing on the cross bar. A header by Ben Jahn and attacking shots by Shaw went just wide. Junior Stephen Ringle suffered a minor concussion on Friday and could not play the next game, but helped coach Saturday’s contest. The Falcons will return a quality team next season. Freshman Ryan Hoover scored twice to help the junior varsity tie Kayhi 2-2.